There is no real definition of a non-traditional student. It is much too broad of a term to be able to categorize. Non-traditional students include: Older students, students who did not graduate high school but got a GED, students who delayed enrollment (meaning they did not attend college right after they left high school) minority students, students considered independent and students who claim other dependents such as children.
More than half of the students who attend Boise State are considered non-traditional students, around 51 percent.
This puts the nontraditional student into a unique category, called a concentrated population.
Over the last three years, Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) has gone through a lot of very significant changes. In fact, the system that created the three main sections of ASBSU, executive council, student assembly and the directors, were just instituted last year for the first time.
This year, the size of the executive council was decreased and the number of seats available for the student assembly were raised by 15, making the number of departments represented around 60, from the original 45. Some of these newly-created seats are not known as college caucus chairs, but rather concentrated population seats, meaning they represent social demographics prominent on campus.
Among these were seats created for sexual orientation minorities and racial and ethnic minorities. However, there was not a seat created for non-traditional students.
ASBSU President Ryan Gregg, who was the head assembly speaker at the time of the reformatting, said, “There is no real way to really say ‘this is the non-traditional student opinion’, because it varies. It doesn’t make sense to include a non-traditional seat because they do not have a concentrated opinion.”
But issues in the assembly have recently arisen about how to handle these new seats, as well as the prominent non-traditional population.
The format of the new student assembly meeting has the 45 college seats speaking about their business first, and then the concentrated population representatives speaking afterwards. Tasha Lundquist, a junior social work major, sits on the assembly in a racial and ethnic minorities seat and earlier in October, her and Dagen Downard, a senior business major, felt singled out when the assembly forgot to give the option to speak to the concentrated population seats.
Lundquist was flabbergasted at what seemed like blatant disregard, “We were never given an opportunity to share out, nor was it really understood when we share out about our positions, or what the students in that area are concerned about.”
This irritated Lundquist, and she came forward and addressed assembly speaker Bryan Vlok about her thoughts.
“What I brought up originally was that I don’t feel like a represented group, or even a representative, really, on campus,” Lundquist said.
To address the concerns brought up by Lundquist, Vlok called an executive assembly meeting, which took place on Oct. 30, and invited her and anyone who wanted to address the issue to attend. The meeting was attended by the entire executive council, which included Gregg.
This meeting was set to diffuse the situation which had arisen in the student assembly meeting. At the meeting Lundquist brought up points stating the executive council was having a hard time making the campus inclusive, which is one of the goals held by the council. She claimed non-traditional students and students of ethnic minorities do not have proper representation, even in the university newspaper.
“We don’t have representation in The Arbiter, for people of color, unless it is a black person in athletics,” Lundquist said.
Vlok stated they would make sure to recognize people in a formal way during assembly, especially making sure the concentrated populations had a spot on the agenda and to work towards diversity and inclusion in all parts of the campus.
One solution Lundquist proposed was to give all assembly members diversity training.
“I think it’s important for white people to look at how their privilege plays into continuing to perpetuate white supremacy, without even acknowledging that it’s happening,” Lundquist said.
Mario Vengeaz, a senior sociology and math major, also attended the meeting and said, “We need to have the skills necessary to navigate different perspectives and cultures and traditions, at the same time understanding the power dynamic, power relations between different groups. We have to deal with the historical legacy of homophobia, racism and sexism, these realities that make up who we are.”
Gregg responded to the idea of diversity training as good, but not the right time.
“It wasn’t really realistic to ask a bunch of students who volunteer one hour every two weeks to come to a training when they didn’t all come to the training (for the student assembly),” Gregg said.
His reasoning stood, since the assembly contains only volunteers, who ran for positions, it is unfair to try to force them to come in for additional training.
“What I would love to do is include some diversity and inclusion and how to be respectful to others in with the assembly training,” Gregg said. “We will do these things. It doesn’t have to be voted on or go to a committee this is just stuff we’ll do. We changed the agenda, we want to include them in the next training; those are just things we are going to do, there is no contention. I just want everyone to know that when they have problems with us if you come and talk to us we’ll fix it.”
Do you feel like you are not well enough represented on campus? The student assembly meetings start up again on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 4:30 p.m., in the Jordan A ballroom at the Student Union Building, and continue every other week.
These meetings are a public forum, so for students with questions or concerns, feel free to attend. There are always empty chairs, and student input would be surely appreciated.